Movies

Why 'The Help' is relevant in today’s racial atmosphere: director Tate Taylor tells us

Tate Taylor got the rights to Kathryn Stockett’s book, The Help, even before it was released in print. “What I loved was the authenticity and truth about it. And as a writer-director, I could relate to it because it was about where I was from,” he says.

Set in his hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, the period drama recounts the story of a young white woman and her relationship with two black maids during the Civil Rights Movement in 1963. Together, they write a book from the point of view of ‘the help’, exposing the racism of the white families. The film stars Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, Octavia Spencer and Emma Stone.

Not just acting

Although he started out as an actor, Taylor became a writer-director along the way. “When you’re in acting, there is a lot of sitting and waiting around. And when you do have a job, you are told exactly what to do; there is not much creative input. To me, writing and directing go hand in hand: one completes the other,” he explains.

Why 'The Help' is relevant in today’s racial atmosphere: director Tate Taylor tells us

When it comes to The Help, he explains, “I understood the world that Kathryn had created, because I had lived in it. But I had never seen it on the big screen in such detail. That drew me to it immediately. I knew I could add more.” While the film was released in 2011, and the subject is even older, it remains relevant thanks to the current atmosphere of xenophobia and rampant racism. He says, “In the novel, the women developed a voice and they were heard. The problem today is that people aren’t listening to others thoughts and troubles. We must overcome this.”

Page to screen

Taylor’s filmography makes it clear that he has a fascination with adapting novels to screen.

In 2016, he directed The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. His next venture too, which he will be shooting over the summer, is based on book, American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America’s Deadliest Drug Epidemic.

Ask him about it and he says, “A lot of the heavy lifting has been taken care of, like outlining and discovering the story. That’s the really brutal part. Even if you have good original material, you have no idea if people are going to embrace it. But when you adapt a book, the story has been proven, people know about it. You just get to make it better,” says Taylor.

The Help will air on January 26 at 4 pm on Sony Le PLEX HD.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 3:26:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/tate-taylor-on-the-help/article22325870.ece

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